Intense Side Stretch with Hands on Blocks – Parsvottanasana

Benefits: In this pose the head is lower than the heart. This calms the nervous system and cools the brain, as more fresh blood is being pumped to the head. The lower you can come in the pose, the more your abdominal organs will be squeezed. This tones the abdominal muscles and increases digestive function. The hamstring muscles are lengthened, creating flexibility in the back of the leg, while the quadriceps are strengthened.

Step by Step Instructions:

For this pose you will need two to four blocks, or a chair. Have your
blocks at both ends of your mat, shoulder width apart. If you are
tight in the hamstrings, use a chair and have it placed at the right
end of your mat.

Begin by standing strong and steady in the middle of your mat in tadasana.

Cross your arms in front of your chest, bend your knees and step your feet
4ft apart, bringing your arms to shoulder height, with palms facing the floor.

Descend all four corners of your feet clearly into the floor. Extend the crown of
your head to the sky.

Inhale and bring your hands on to your hips. Exhale and turn your right foot
out to ninety degrees and your left foot in to eighty degrees.

As you do this, bring your hips and waist with you so that your hips are square to your new front.

With your hands on your hips, you can feel if your hips are square or not. If they are not square,
move your right hip back and your left hip forward.

Ground down through your left heel, lift your knee caps and descend your
shoulder blades to your sacrum.

Imagine that you are in a tight corridor and that your hips can neither move
to the left or right. Hold this image as you exhale and begin to fold forward.

Bring your hands on to the blocks or the chair. If you are a little tight
in your hamstrings, have the blocks at their tallest. If you are
more flexible you can have them at medium height, or at their lowest.

Once your hands are on the blocks at the level you are comfortable with,
connect with your breath, allowing your body to settle into the shape
you are now in.

Ground your back foot into the mat. Move your right sitting bone back
behind you, until it is line with your right heel. Elongate both
sides of your waist evenly.

As your hamstrings open, you may be able to deepen into the pose. If
you are using a chair, you could do this by bringing your hand onto a
set of blocks. If you are using blocks you can lower the blocks, or
place your hands on the mat. Only do this if you can keep the sides
of your body even and your breath smooth.

To come out of the pose; bring your hands on to your hips, inhale and
lift your torso to upright. Exhale and steady yourself here. Inhale
and turn your feet, hips and torso back to the front.

If you are using a chair, move it to the other side of the mat. If you
only have one set of blocks, move them to the left side of the mat now.

Inhale and turn your left foot out to ninety degrees and your right foot in
to eighty degrees. Once you have turned, take the time to align your
pelvis. Move your right hip forward and your left hip back.

Before you fold forward, notice in this position how your left sitting bone
is in line with your left heel. Keep that alignment steady and clear
as you slowly and mindfully exhale and fold forward.

Bring your hands on to the chair or the blocks.

Make sure that both sides of your waist are stretched evenly, that your
left sitting bone is still in line with your left heel, and that your
diaphragm is soft and your shoulder blades are moving towards your
sacrum, as you extend your spine towards the crown of your head.

Take long, smooth and even breaths; surrendering deeper and deeper into the pose.

Bring your hands onto your blocks if you are using a chair. Lower your
blocks further if you are using them. Bring your hands on to the
floor, only if you have plenty of experience with this pose.

To come out of the pose; bring your hands onto your hips. Inhale and
lift your torso to upright. Exhale and steady yourself here. Inhale and turn your feet back to parallel.

Bend your knees, cross your arms in front of your chest and jump your feet
back together to come to standing in tadasana.

Everything Else:

Level: 3
Props required: Blocks, Chair
Movement Type: Standing
Sub Movement Type-A: Forward Bend
Sub Movement Type-B: Hamstrings
Main Anatomical Focus: Hamstrings
Secondary Anatomical Focus: Abdominals
Physiological Focus: Digestive System, Excretory System

Therapeutic Focus: Lower Backache

Contraindications:Do not practise this movement if you suffering from a hamstring injury, unless under supervision from a experienced yoga teacher.

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View this Variation of Intense Side Stretch in